August: Summer Sun Safety Month

Summer Sun Safety Month
, observed in August, encourages you to enjoy your summer, but take precautions to avoid overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. And if you notice anything unusual on your skin, see your provider.

Summer Sun Safety Month reminds us that skin is the body’s largest organ, so it’s not a surprise that skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer. Each year, about 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States. These cancers in the outer layer of the skin, occur most where skin is exposed to the sun, such as the face, ears, neck, lips and the backs of the hands.

Spending time outside is a great way to be physically active, reduce stress, and get vitamin D. You can work and play outside without raising your skin cancer risk by protecting your skin from the sun.

Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. UV rays are an invisible kind of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps. UV rays can damage skin cells.

Protection from UV rays is important all year, not just during the summer. UV rays can reach you on cloudy and cool days, and they reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow. In the continental United States, UV rays tend to be strongest from 10am to 4pm daylight saving time (9am to 3pm standard time).

To help you protect yourself and your family, the skin cancer experts at Moffitt Cancer Center offer the following tips:

  • Sunscreen – Before going outside, always apply a waterproof, broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 to 30. Pay particular attention to easily missed areas of your body, such as your ears, the tops of your feet and the part in your hair. Also, remember that sunscreen wears off, so you’ll need to reapply it every two hours, as well as after you swim or sweat.
  • Clothing – The best way to protect your skin from sun damage is to cover it with clothing, including a loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirt and long pants made of a tightly woven fabric. Of course, wearing this type of clothing will be impractical if you’re swimming, so be sure to keep a T-shirt or rash guard on hand to cover up with while you’re in the water.
  • Hat – Protect your head, ears, face and neck with the shade of a wide-brimmed hat constructed of a tightly woven fabric like canvas (UV rays can penetrate a straw hat). If you wear a baseball cap, be doubly sure to protect your ears and neck with sunscreen.
  • Sunglasses – Protect your eyes by wearing wraparound sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays (most sunglasses sold in the U.S. meet this requirement, regardless of their cost). Well-designed sunglasses can help shield your eyes from damaging UV rays, prevent cataracts and also protect the delicate skin around your eyes from the harmful effects of sun exposure.
  • Shade – Seek shade underneath a shelter, umbrella or tree, especially during the mid-day hours. Even if you are in a shaded area, though, you should still protect yourself with sunscreen, clothing, a hat and sunglasses.
  • Water – Be sure to stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. While this is always important, it is critical when you are spending time in the sun.

Sources: &

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